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U.S. Senator Cory Booker with his longtime aide, Matt Klapper. (Photo by Kevin Lowery for Cory 2020.)

Klapper set to become chief of staff to the U.S. Attorney General

Longtime Booker aide will join Justice Department under Garland; Duron set to be new Booker chief of staff

By David Wildstein, March 10 2021 12:53 pm

Matt Klapper, Cory Booker’s chief of staff and longtime top advisor, is headed to the U.S. Department of Justice to serve as chief of staff to Attorney General Merrick Garland.

Veronica Duron, who had served as Booker’s legislative director, is expected to replace Klapper as the senator’s chief of staff.

The U.S. Senate today confirmed President Joe Biden’s nomination of Garland by a 70-29 vote.

Starting out as an aide to Booker when he was a Newark City Councilman, Klapper worked on Booker’s mayoral staff as a policy advisor in between his graduation from the University of Pennsylvania and going to Yale Law School.  He returned to Newark as chief policy advisor to the mayor in 2011 and was policy director for Booker’s 2013 U.S. Senate run.

Klapper went to Washington with Booker, first as a senior advisor, and since 2014 as the Chief of Staff.  He served as senior advisor to Booker’s bid for the 2020 presidential campaign.

In addition to his Sente experience, Klapper is a first responder.  He’s a former full-time firefighter in Summit on top of nine years as a volunteer firefighter and ambulance squad crew chief.

“Matt Klapper is the very definition of a mensch — just a beautiful human being,” said Mo Butler, a former Booker chief of staff and a close Klapper friend.  “I’ve watched him grow professionally and personally for nearly two decades and can emphatically say that the Biden administration nailed this appointment.”

The new job doesn’t completely remove Klapper from Booker’s world.

The New Jersey Senator recently assumed the chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Criminal Justice and Counterterrorism.  That will give Booker some oversight over Klapper.

Running that Justice Department makes Klapper one of the most powerful New Jerseyans in Washington.

“For more than 20 years, Matt worked with me in the trenches fighting to advance social, racial, and economic justice for New Jerseyans and all Americans, most recently as my Senate chief of staff, where he moved mountains and bridged divides, bringing people together around ideas that made our country more just and fair,” Booker said in a statement released on Wednesday afternoon.  ““I’m lifted knowing that he is bringing to the Justice Department the knowledge, grit and empathy our nation needs right now to fight for the most vulnerable and ensure equal justice for all. He’s the best person for the job — and I could not be prouder.”

Booker said he was “grateful for Matt’s leadership that has helped millions of Americans in New Jersey and around our country.”

“It’s impossible to quantify the impact Matt has had on so many — from all corners of this nation to the staff he led here in the Senate,” he said.

It also sets Klapper up for a nice career in law — if he wants it.

Margaret Richardson, who served as Attorney General Eric Holder’s chief of staff, held top posts at Airbnb and Apple after leaving the Justice Department.

Matt Miller, a former spokesman for U.S. Senator Bob Menendez and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, served as director of the Office of Public Affairs at the Department of Justice and was Holder’s chief spokesman.

Now Miller is a commentator on MSNBC and runs a crisis communications firm.

Prior to joining Booker’s office in 2019, Duron spent eight years working for now-Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and two years on the staff of Rep. Solomon Ortiz (D-Texas).

“Veronica has been a force in our office since she joined as my legislative director in 2019. Her spirit, energy and values give me the utmost faith that she’s the right person to lead us through the challenging—yet exciting—times ahead,” said Booker.  “We’re lucky to have her, and I’m excited to take on this new era with Veronica at the helm of my Senate team.”

This story was updated at 4:19 PM with comment from Booker. 

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